Tag Archives: retail

Square One

So I got fired today.

I told someone today that I was ready to pack up and go home to Wisconsin because the city had eaten me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t come here for a job. I came here to write. It was not the most fantastic of jobs, working for Barnes and Noble. (I can say the name in writing now that I no longer work there and am no longer bound by their “do not blog about us” rules.) It did have one perk though. People.

N told me last week that working there has been good for me. She was right. I got to know a group of very awesome, incredible people from all walks of life and (literally) all coasts of the country. I loved my cashiers. The actors and actresses. The artists. The readers and writers. Even the ones I didn’t talk to much. I still have a post it that one cashier stuck on my station a few weeks ago of the Gilmore Girls characters; I stuck it to my wall by the light switch.

I will miss them.

I’m a massively shy introvert; I hate having to meet new people. So without a job, I probably WON’T. Or at the very least, it’ll be a lot harder. I’ve lost my little network that, no matter how much I hated my job, really did mean a lot to me.

I take my firing as me being a threat on a lot of different levels. The bogus reason given to me for my termination simply isn’t important. The truth is, I saw too much; I knew too much. I was too good. It’s that simple. I was GOOD at my job. I hated it, or rather, I hated the place. But I was GOOD. They’ve lost me, over something dumb and completely fictitious, as my investigations this evening have revealed.

I came to New York to write, but everyone here keeps telling me that I will make no money doing that. There is little money in nonfiction. Absolutely none in memoir. I knew that coming here, and I always said it didn’t bother me. But now that I’m in the real world, I doubt my degree. I doubt what I will use it for. It seems pointless sometimes, this idea that I am writing things that won’t sell. Writers now have to write for the market, the market controls the writer. You don’t cater to the market, you don’t thrive. My writer is a particular niche, and it’s one I’m good at. It’s difficult for me to break outside of it, and outside of it is where the world wants me to go. Why did I go after a degree to…write? The more people tell me the money isn’t there, the more scary my degree seems. I need something else job-wise, and that blows. I rehash my choices now, my slowness at looking for something else. Or the even bigger choices—did I pick the right school, the right city? Should I have gone somewhere where I didn’t have to work? Every time I think I know, the city bucks back. I haven’t learned how to ride yet. I haven’t learned how to stand up for myself. I haven’t learned how to be properly angry.

I’m back to square one now. A writer in New York City with no job and no discernible source of income. I may take out an additional loan until next semester to supplement my pathetic savings. I have an interview with CBS on Tuesday for a part time internship. But in the meantime, I have time. Time to be a student. Time to think. Time to write. Those are the things I came here for, the good things. The things I do awesomely well. By myself. With the cat. Nothing wrong with that.

Until I start talking to her and she starts answering back. Then we have a problem :).

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Here’s to Being Me

Today I was told that I am too loud. Abrasive. That women need to be quiet and respectful when talking to men if they want that respect to be reciprocated. That men don’t like me because I don’t fit this profile, that this profile is what makes a good female manager. I felt at first like the little girl who never got picked for either of the teams in kickball; I told myself not to cry because the speaker was just being a butthead. The attack was completely unwarranted. I struggled to figure out where it had come from, because it was so out of left field. And then I realized that I don’t want to be that person who makes excuses for someone who would say these things. Because that is like saying that it’s okay to say them—and it’s not.

I swore that once I got a degree, I wouldn’t put myself back in retail. But I’m here now, and that’s all right. I work in a cash office all day, and sometimes I cashier. It pays for bills and food while I further my degree. So because I enjoy eating, I put up with a lot. Many people assume that cashiers are servants made to do their bidding. They forget that we spend all day on our feet, scanning their shit and counting their money, until we are ready to fall over—and we come back for more each and every day. They forget that we are ordinary people just like they are, trying to get by. They treat us like dirt, like inferior beings, when we are, if anything, superior for putting up with the lot of them. They yell at us, they call us names, they threaten us. And we are still expected to smile and wait on them as if it’s okay. We make excuses for their behavior in order to get through the day, because we don’t know what they’re going through or where they’re coming from.

But I’m mad now, and I won’t make excuses for today. I won’t make excuses for what was said, because there simply aren’t any.

I view the discussion I had tonight as is a warning that women cannot be successful in management. A friend of mine wrote upon hearing this that it isn’t the 50s anymore. Truth. Women are just as awesome at management as men. Some are better. Management skill is not something that is based on gender. But I don’t want to be in management. I came here to write. I came here to be a bigger person that they will ever be. That’s not me being braggy—that’s me simply stating a fact. From the start with this company, I have been talked down to by people above me. I have been insulted. I have been continuously badgered to be someone that I’m not, because I, as I am, am just not good enough to work there.

I’m not a loud person, by nature. I can be exuberant when I’m happy or when I really know someone, but trust me—that does not happen at work. I do my job. I do it well. I care, so I get things done. The fact that I care so much and work hard apparently makes me female-managerial. But my so-called personality and way of speech make me male-managerial, which apparently means I will never be a good manager.

My resume begs to differ. I am good. I am good as ME. The more that I stay in this city, the more that I go to school, the more that I write, the better I am going to be. So here’s to me. Here’s to me being me, and to knowing that the words of someone who doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things will never have the power to change who I am unless I give them that power. *imaginary toast of alcohol*

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Give and Take, Good and Bad

Customers in New York seem even more rude than customers in Wisconsin did, if that’s even possible. In just a few weeks, I have had two people call me fat, two people throw things at me, one I’m fairly certain was about to stab me with a pen before he was hauled away, and countless ones losing their tempers for absolutely no logical reason.
I swore to myself that once I had a college degree, I would never again work in retail; I worked really hard for that degree. And yet, here I am. While I understand that this is a means to an end while in grad school, I still hate it. I love the cashiers I supervise, but I hate going to work every day.
New York and retail have me quite blah.

There was a police officer in dress uniform in front of me today at Starbucks. While I was looking down at the floor, playing with my name badge for work, I caught a glimpse of something on the underside of the cap he held in the hand closest to me. I wasn’t trying to snoop, per say, but I was definitely curious. I leaned a little closer and saw it was a photograph. He smiled at me when he saw me glancing down at it, which seemed like an invitation to ask, “Do you mind if I ask whose photo you have taped there?”
“Not at all.” He flipped the cap over more and held it up so I could get a closer look. “Most police officers, fire fighters, and the like carry a photo of one of the fallen from 9/11 under their hats. If you ask, we are happy to show it you. It helps us—and others—to remember.”
There’s good in New York too. I need to remember this.

There is a man who sits on Fifth Avenue in the vicinity of Barnes and Noble almost every day. He puts his back against the brick wall and rests a cardboard sign against his knees: “Please help; my mother died of breast cancer two days ago and I just need 56 dollars for a ticket home. Help me and her get a miracle.”
By my clock, his mother has died two days ago almost forty times now, or every day that I have gone to work in the last seven weeks. It is people like this man who are the reason why I won’t give any money or any second glances to any homeless people, and that makes me a little sad. I worry I am losing my faith in humanity, that New York is burning it out of me.

I left my grad school workshop in tears last week. For a myriad of reasons. Mostly, because I don’t really fit in. I haven’t had a critique yet—though I will tonight. I don’t know how to fit into the conversation. How to make my voice heard. When I reached the bus that would drive me through the Lincoln Tunnel and deposit me safely at my nice, quiet house, it was quite late and only one spot remained. For two of us.
I must have looked pretty damn sad and forlorn, because the man who was in line with me gave me his spot. I have never seen that happen around here. We fight over those tunnel bus seats with a ferociousness that is akin to my cat attacking her food dish at night. He said to me, “You look like you need to go home more than I do.”
A mild spot of faith in humanity was restored that night.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while New York may drive me absolutely bloody mental at times, there is also good in it too. The city, like everything else in the world, is not black and white. It’s give and take, good and bad.
I would do well to remember this, always.

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